“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं
यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति
तद् अहं भक्त्य्-उपहृतम्
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
Friend1: Isn’t it a strange concept to offer something to God?
Friend2: What do you mean? In relation to the patram pushpam verse from Bhagavad-gita?
Friend1: Yes, and more so the general concept followed in the Vedic tradition. A shift in priority. Instead of worrying about personal sense gratification, keep God in mind. His interest comes first.
Friend2: I heard His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada compare the process to worship of Ganga Devi, which involves something similar. Basically, after you step into the water, you take some of that water and offer it back to the river.
Friend1: That is part of the procedure?
Friend2: Yes; that is the ritual. He says that it should make someone stop and think. Here I am immersing myself in a sacred river. I am honoring that river for its ability to purify me, and the way I honor it is by dropping some water back into her.
Friend1: Yes! I think that is what someone might be confused over.
Friend2: Since God is the source of everything.
Friend1: Right, and so why are we worshiping Him back with something He has provided?
Friend2: I like to compare it to the behavior of children, particularly with respect to their parents.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Have you ever been in a situation where a young child asks to help you with something?
Friend1: Oh, sure. All the time. It gets a little annoying, but you don’t want to squash their enthusiasm.
Friend2: Let me ask you this. Is the child actually helping you?
Friend1: They are with me. They are copying some of the things that I do.
Friend2: But you could accomplish the work without their assistance, no?
Friend1: Absolutely. Sometimes, it takes longer when they are involved, but I still go along.
Friend2: In essence, they aren’t helping you much.
Friend1: No, but the loving sentiment is so nice. They run to the laundry room as soon as I open the drying machine. They want to help me fold the clothes and put them back in the closet.
Friend2: It makes you feel good?
Friend1: More than that. It is a difficult emotion to describe. The bond strengthens. I almost look forward to doing the laundry now. It is a way to spend time together.
Friend2: And they are advancing in a sense.
Friend1: Yes; they are learning responsibility. They are imitating the adults. They are offering service.
Friend2: The worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan, works in the same way. We are like incapable children in comparison to Him. We can do nothing; He can do everything. We have nothing; He has everything.
Friend1: If Bhagavan were to view me the same way parents view their children in that regard, that would be really nice.
Friend2: It would be so much appreciated.
Friend1: To the point that I would vow to continue in service. Let me never grow up. Let me always remain a child, so that I can always be associated with Him.
Friend2: You have described the entire bhakti culture. Always be associated with the all-attractive one, who is compassion personified. If you like cooking for Him, He will provide you endless opportunities to be in the kitchen. If you prefer to glorify Him through written word, He will grant you abilities you never knew were inside you, such as producing published works at a frenetic pace. People will think you have an entire team helping you glorify Him on a daily basis, when it is actually you alone.
His property first taking,
For worship offering making.
Strange concept to believe,
But ultimate blessings to receive.
Like child with parent assisting,
The elder never resisting.
Rather the bond to strengthen tight,
Bhakti with Bhagavan in similar light.